An old friend to RealTalkNY, Cornell Dews, gives his thoughts on Waka Flocka below.
Can’t Knock The Hustle by Cornell Dews
What would Waka Flocka Flame be doing if he wasn’t rapping? A couple of weeks ago, the southern bred MC and Gucci Mane cohort acknowledged that he wasn’t lyrical nor was he into lyrics and all hell broke loose. It was as if the young man had desecrated religion or even worse.
He’s not into lyrics, and obviously his motivation in the rap game isn’t to go down in history as anyone’s top five, dead or alive. It appears that his motivation is the same as so many of today’s artists, and that’s to get paid.
Rest of the article is below.
Over the years, we’ve seen rap evolve. Therefore, with the evolution of rap, I’m sure many would concur, that the participant’s motivation changed as well. Initially, MC’s just wanted to move the crowd and that’s what they did, upon the inception of the art form. During the eighties, arguably we witnessed the most diversification and transitional stages in rappers, which could probably be credited for laying the benchmark for rappers, for many years to follow. We had the likes of Darryl and Joe whose “swag” was impeccable to none, the knowledge administered by the eighteenth letter, the consciousness of Public Enemy number one and the fuck the police mentality ushered in easily by niggers with attitudes, just to name a few. All different groups and styles existed with one motivation, to tell a story, educate, inform and through it all, we were entertained.
Then came the nineties when it was imperative to be lyrical; and the complexities of rappers rhymes made their stories even more brazing and sinister than what they really were. Their words were deep, and the way they were spoken, made people rewind and listen again. Did you hear what he just said? Many of us remember making that statement at some point in time in regards to hip hop music, two decades prior to our present. I’m certain that many of you also recall hearing rappers in interviews say that they wrote music with the intent of making the listening audience say, as we pressed rewind, “Did you hear what he just said”? A statement as such only existed because their motivation was different. Many of the early ninety artists were still challenging the presence or the ghost of those who had paved the way for them to even exist. During that time, Nas was the sire and blueprint, epitomizing the standard of the art; for Christ sake we all remember who he was compared to, the eighteenth letter, the God MC. How did he write his rhymes? Probably with a dictionary and thesaurus close by, and after reading countless material on subject matter such as politics, religion, economics, history, theatre and the arts, authored by individuals like Niccolo Machiavelli, William Shakespeare, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Prophet Noble Drew Ali, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Malcolm X, George Jackson, Huey Newton, and Bobby Seal, just to name ten of thousands. Artists of the nineties understood the story telling component and how to move the crowd, but seemed to thrive on being part of the argument of “who’s the best rapper?”
Much transpired in the previous decades in hip hop before we started concerning ourselves with gold and platinum plaques or the amount of money artists earned for selling their art or brand. Though Puffy and them had everybody “throwing their Rollies in the sky” or wishing they could, honestly, it was them boys from the bottom of the map that changed the motivation in the game in one swoop.
Though he’ll never be mentioned on any lyricist top five lists, Percy Miller, masterminded the game and blatantly and unabashedly announced the “new” reason and motivation that rappers should be in the game. That No Limit soldier got filthy rich, quickly, without spitting any complex lyrics; but contrarily for spitting simplistic lyrics over hard knocking beats and more importantly by understanding the business that he was partaking in. True, Puffy, Jay and some others got money to, but I don’t believe that monetary reasons were their initial motives. Initially, classic material seemed to be the driving force, then they started making a lot of money and the dollar became the motivation.
The difference between many of the artists from the nineties era who still exist and put out music, in comparison to those who followed them, I’m certain, is the fact that they remember another reason for wanting to emcee other than to get rich.
Since the new millennium, there have been some acts that have been able to enter the game with lyrical ability and capitalize on the business aspect as well. However, many new acts also realized that rap is a means to an end, a good one; I might add, if you’re somewhat successful with your hustle like a Waka Flocka Flame or Gucci Mane. Consider this, Waka Flocka hasn’t dropped an album independently or on a major and he gets over $15,000.00 a night to perform, already. Last year, Gucci Mane dropped his first major release album and prior to that was already commanding over $30,000 a night to perform. No, they’re not selling out arenas, but they’re performing at clubs around the country, consistently, on a regular basis and they are booked throughout the week.
What would Waka Flocka be doing if he wasn’t rapping? Hell, I could ask the same question for many other emcees that may not be deemed the most lyrical and oftentimes rap about the same content. With that being said, you could probably ask the same of the quote unquote lyrical rappers as well. Now, who am I to say exactly what they would be doing if they weren’t rapping, but would it be completely false of me to assume that they would not be legitimately making the kind of money that they currently earn?
Most of us come from the same type of environment, faced the same obstacles and had the same dreams. We all wanted to escape the societal ills inflicted upon us. We were either going to “get rich or die trying.” Biggie said that it would either take us “selling crack rock or having a wicked jump shot.” Either way, we wanted out. The early stages of hip hop allowed us to express those suppressed emotions, we shortly found reward through our expression, and then our motivation to express changed, but still with the same underlying resolve. Most young boys from our community don’t have a bar mitzvah to indicate that they’re men. There is no ceremony, instead, what’s the first thing you’re reminded as a boy proclaiming to be grown? The first time your mother hear you say, “I’m grown” she immediately reminds you that you’re not grown until you can fend for yourself by paying bills, such as rent, gas and electric, buy your own clothes and food. If you watch one of the most recent videos of Waka Flocka uploaded on different hip hop sites, you’ll hear him make a comment about his house which he states is “bigger than your momma’s.”
I’m not mad at Waka or any of the other artist’s for not being “lyrical” because I know their motivation to rap isn’t the same as those individuals who are commonly revered as being great emcees. Again, today’s rap is a means to an end. For many, it’s just a hustle. And if there was another legitimate hustle, which allowed the return to be just as profitable for time invested, I’m certain that they’d pursue that.
As perplexing as it is, truth be told, I’d guess that I’d rather see them making an honest living rapping about the trap in simplicity, than to try to make a living trapping.
Can’t Knock The Hustle by Cornell Dews